In-depth

Accelerating Adaptation to Climate Change

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UNDP assisted with construction of Energy Efficient houses in Badin, Sindh Province. Photo: UNDP Pakistan

Environment and climate change are inextricably linked to sustainable development. Pakistan requires greater progress in environmental protection. Water scarcity is increasing, land productivity is decreasing and climate change is worsening these treats. The risk of natural disasters, also exacerbated by climate change as well as economic shocks, adds to existing vulnerabilities. We are promoting the integration of climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable policies into development plans and programmes in Pakistan.

Our engagement with the Ministry of Climate Change resulted in the approval and launch of the National Climate Change Policy. We also supported the Government in drafting the National Sustainable Development Strategy that was presented at the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) in June 2012.

We are supporting projects across the region in Pakistan to respond to the growing threat of climate change; to mainstream environment concerns into national development planning processes; and to expand access to environmental and energy services for the poor. In particular, UNDP has sought to ensure that the poor have stronger capacities to manage, adapt to and monitor climate change.

Climate Change is a huge development challenge as well as a huge environmental challenge. Apart from the global impact, it is hitting the poorest and the most vulnerable first and hardest. It is a growing problem of the here and now.

The effects of climate change also weigh disproportionately on the poorest, and on women and children. Successful climate change adaptation, coupled with forceful mitigation, holds the key to human development prospects.

Flash floods from glacial lakes pose the biggest danger to lives and economies in Himalayan countries. UNDP supports the Government of Pakistan to reduce the risk of glacial lake floods by integrating disaster risk reduction strategies with climate change adaptation in high risk areas.

Our project, Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities from Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, seeks to develop the human and technical capacity of public institutions & local communities to understand and address immediate glacial lake outburst flood risks in Gilgit & Chitral District. A glacial lake outburst flood is a type of outburst flood that occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails.

Through this project, we are strengthening resilience to respond to climate and other environmental impacts through effective conservation and management of natural resources and the implementation of related national policies.

Sustainable Energy for All

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Pakistan faces severe energy crisis and communities in many areas have little or no access to dependable energy sources. This provides the opportunity of extending sustainable and renewable energy options across these energy scarce areas. Solar, wind, hydro and biogas/biomass systems have been demonstrated globally as perfect solutions to meet local energy demands. Similarly, promoting low cost energy efficient solutions is another way of addressing the energy crisis faced by Pakistan. We will be working towards promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency as mitigation measures. These measures would have a large scale replication scope in remote areas of the country.   

Ecosystem Protection


The livelihoods of majority of population of Pakistan are dependent on the use of natural resources including land, water and fisheries. In the remote mountains, arid/semi-arid and coastal areas, the dependence of local populations is almost entirely on the natural assets. Some of these eco-systems are also of global significance and home to the plants and animal species that are rare and endemic. To protect the livelihoods of the local communities and the natural capital, it is imperative to promote sustainable use regimes in these eco-systems. UNDP, through targeted interventions, will promote sustainable use of natural resources by providing better alternatives to the local communities to transform them from resource users to resource managers. These interventions will help in establishing market chains for sustainably managed products from different regions of the country. The value addition to the marketable products and services will help in wide scale replication across the larger landscape with the involvement of local government institutions and the communities.

At a Glance: Environment & Climate Change

  • Pakistan is a large geographically diverse country with a number of significant ecological features, including extensive mountain, desert, riverine, wetland and coastal ecosystems, supporting distinct, diverse biological communities.
  • Pakistan is situated between the latitudes of 24° and 37° north and longitudes of 61° to 75° east, stretching over 1600 kilometers from north to south and 885 kilometers from east to west forming a rectangular mass covering about 880,000 square kilometers with a coastline of 1046 kilometers;
  • Due to its highly diverse physiographic and climatic conditions, Pakistan has been classified into 11 geographical, ten agro-ecological and 9 major ecological zones;
  • It is the only country in the world where the altitude difference is greatest since Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 8,000 meters besides having its largest port city (Karachi) at almost sea level;
  • It has a vast glacial area which covers about 15,000 square km comprising 5,000 glaciers which are in rapid retreat. The rate of this retreat has gone up by 23% in the previous decade;
  • Pakistan has very low forest cover (only 4%);
  • It is ranked as one of the most vulnerable countries vis-à-vis the impacts of climate change;
  • Pakistan loses almost 6% of GDP per annum due to environmental degradation;
  • More than half of the population depends on the use of natural resources for its livelihood;
  • 15 million people have no access to electricity;
  • Pakistan is one of the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases (only 0.8% of total global emissions) yet energy is used very inefficiently in the industrial and buildings sectors;
  • Pakistan is a signatory to several Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) such as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity; United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification; Kyoto Protocol; and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Our Results
National Climate Change Policy

The National Climate Change policy provides a framework to address the issues Pakistan faces vis-à-vis the phenomenon of climate change. It was developed by the Ministry of Climate Change and supported the One UN Joint Programme on Environment by UNDP.

Ziarat Juniper Forest declared Biosphere Reserve

Juniper Forest of Ziarat in Balochistan province has been declared Biosphere Reserve by International Co-ordinating Council (ICC) of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme. This Biosphere Reserve of Ziarat has the largest patch of Juniper forests  (juniperus excelsa polycarpos) in Pakistan and measures about 110,000 ha.

Reducing risks of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods

We are helping reduce risks and vulnerabilities of glacial lake outburst floods by developing technical capacities of public institutions in building knowledge and addressing immediate floods risks for vulnerable communities in Northern Pakistan.

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